Puerto Rico overwhelmingly votes for statehood in nonbinding referendum

The El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, the Legislative House, is pictured on May 16, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico  — Puerto Rico’s governor says the U.S. territory has overwhelmingly chosen statehood in a non-binding referendum.

Ricardo Rossello said Sunday that the island has sent a strong and clear message to U.S. Congress and the world.

Nearly half a million votes were cast for statehood, more than 7,600 for free association/independence and nearly 6,700 for independence. The participation rate was nearly 23 percent with roughly 2.26 million registered voters.

But many question the validity of the vote amid a low turnout and a boycott by several opposition parties.

U.S. Congress has final say on any changes to the U.S. territory’s political status, regardless of the referendum’s final outcome.